Everybody wants to be free. It seems to be built into us. Our founding fathers said that freedom was an inalienable right. But what does it mean to be free? Most people would probably say that freedom is not having someone else telling you what you can and cannot do. We look at liberty as not being under anyone elses authority.
Jesus teaches us how to be truly free. God gave us all freedom, and He must think that it is something very important, because in giving us our freedom He opened the door for evil to enter the world, with all the pain and suffering that brings. Real freedom, however, is not merely escaping domination. The freedom that Jesus teaches us is freedom to be who He made you to be. The freedom to become who you really are, to be truly yourself. He invites us to experience what St. Paul calls the “liberty of the children of God”. It is not a freedom from something, but a freedom for something. For life. To live your life in the fullness of Christ as a child of God.
Prayer is the way of entering into His freedom. It is the freedom that comes only when we undertake the journey. It takes discipline. Discipline, that word makes us think that we are giving up some freedom. In our modern world we are not used to doing anything unless there is an immediate payoff. We say to ourselves that we will try praying and meditation for a little while and if I get anything out of it, I’ll keep it up, and if not I’ll try something else, like jogging.
Prayer is like breathing for the soul. Just as your body needs air to survive, so your soul needs prayer.
Prayer gives you the space that is necessary to simply be. To be who you are without insecurity, or ego, or desire. It will allow you to find a peace that is already in your own heart. Isn’t this what everybody is looking for? Peace? To experience at the very center of your soul, harmony with yourself, with God, and with all creation? That is what prayer is all about. You do have to approach it differently than you approach anything else. You have to stop trying to be in control, or get your way. You will have to surrender. It will seem as though you are giving up your freedom. But in letting go of your life, you will find it.
St. Paul encourages us to experience for ourselves the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” But how do we do that? How do we enter into and realize it? He replies, “the only thing that counts is faith active in love.” And the way to that faith active in love is “union with Christ Jesus.” This is what prayer is all about. Christian prayer is simply allowing the presence of Jesus in our hearts to become the supreme reality of our lives. To do that we have to learn to be quiet and still, and to be attentive to His presence in our hearts.